(BlackDoctor.org) — The movie Jumping The Broom is currently out in theaters, meaning that, after the ending credits roll by, there will be much conversation about the state of Black marriages today. Are Black marriages stronger or weaker than they used to be? Who are we marrying? Are we still getting married, or are more of us just sitting at home alone? Are we still even capable of happy unions?
But mostly, miles away from all of the Black marriage myths and all of the negative relationship statistics and stereotypes, most people really just want answers to the same question: what does it take to be happily married today?
By the time you decide to get hitched, you may think you know everything there is to know, right? Well, guess what? Married life often turns out to be full of unexpected joys…and disappointments.
“People are surprised that even in this most intimate relationship, there’s a lot that still needs to be discovered,” says Kim Lundholm-Eades, MS, a marriage and family therapist.
Those Little Things DO Matter
“Many couples say that what surprised them most about their marriage is that they really have to address the little things that are irritating them, which is the opposite of what you hear in the media about letting the small stuff go,” says Terri L. Orbuch, PhD, author of 5 Simple Steps to Take Your Marriage from Good to Great and a research professor at the University of Michigan’s Institute for Social Research.
In various long-term studies, couples have reported that small irritations – like never loading the dishwasher or always being late to the movies — became big issues if they didn’t talk about it.
“It’s very important to talk about what’s irritating you in a nonthreatening way and to compromise. Don’t let these things fester.”
Your Families Matter More Than You Think, Too
Once you’ve endured a couple holiday meals with your future in-laws, you may feel that you know how to negotiate your relationship with them. But doing so can still be surprisingly hard. If personalities clash, there’s a forced desire to instantly bond that just doesn’t feel comfortable, one or more parents disapprove of the marriage, or even if the wife decides not to change her name, there can be lasting tensions that take a very long time to ease away – both with the family and within the marriage.
Some people are most surprised by how much their marriage is like their parents’ marriage.
“Couples often underestimate the role that each individual’s family history plays,” says Lundholm-Eades. “They vow that their marriage will be different from their parents’ marriage, and then are surprised and often horrified by the similarities. They may argue about finances, for instance, or make failed assumptions about the division of household chores — just like their parents did,” she says.
Marriage Equals More Work, Not Less
It may seem obvious, but there is twice as much that you go through when you’re married: all the emotional ups and downs, job-related successes and anxieties, medical issues, family commitments and celebrations and conflicts – everything doubles.
This sharing is what makes it a deeper relationship. But it’s surprising how this doubling is both rewarding and more taxing,” David says.